Diet Vs Exercise For Weight Loss
While I was doing my pushups yesterday, my reasonably fit brother decided to join me. Even though he hadn’t done any for some time, he managed to complete fifty.
After we finished, he said he’d keep joining me over the next few days. He’s doing a weight-loss challenge with some friends, and needs to lose 7 pounds by the end of the week.
My response was to invite him to eat vegan with me until then. “Eating plant-based,” I told him, “will have a much bigger impact on your weight loss than exercise.”
What are my reasons for thinking so?
I’m not sure what his daily calorie intake is, but according to a study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN between 2006 and 2008, Americans consumed an average of 3,750 calories daily.
This number makes sense when you consider that a:
Whopper with cheese is 740 calories
Large fries are 430 calories
A medium vanilla shake is 665 calories
Meaning that one Burger King meal adds up to a “whopping” 1835 calories!
This is almost half of of the 3,750 calories for just one meal! But what about the other two meals we eat, plus all the snacks and drinks in between?
So, if we naturally burn 2,000 calories a day, then we Americans are consuming 1,750 extra calories.*
Can we get rid of these extra calories through exercise? Not likely.
Currently, I do 30 minutes of push-ups and squats every day. A person of my weight burns 223 calories with this workout, according to a Harvard Heart Letter chart. This means I would have to do push-ups for about 4 hours straight to burn the 1,750 extra calories.
But if the average American were to ditch the Standard American Diet (SAD) for a low-fat plant-based diet, they’d easily cut 1,000 calories a day.
Exercise is important. I get that. But there’s also no doubt changing one’s diet is a much easier way to lose weight (and keep it off) than sticking with a rigorous calisthenics program!
In a recent Nutritionfacts.org video, Dr. Michael Greger called the worldwide spread of obesity, “A pandemic… now considered to be perhaps the most dire and poorly-contained public health threat of our time.”
He follows up with a sad and scary (but not completely surprising) statistic about Americans: “About 37 percent of American men are obese, and 41 percent of American women, with no end in sight.”
Dr. Greger’s own take on diet, exercise and weight loss leaves little room for debate. He says of a Harris poll finding that nearly 2 out of 3 people polled blamed lack of exercise, not diet, for rising obesity:
“That’s actually… one of the most common misconceptions… The scientific community has come to a fairly decisive conclusion that the factors governing calorie intake more powerfully affect overall calorie balance. It’s more our fast food than our slow motion.”
In the past 100 years, America’s obesity rate has soared from 1 person in 30 to over 1 in 3. The time for encouraging people to change the way they eat is NOW!
If my brother really wants to lose 7 pounds this week, doing push-ups with me won’t cut it. He will need to eat what I eat.
*See tomorrow post for a discussion on the amount of calories we naturally burn.